A weekday routine for parents across the country turned tragic Friday afternoon in Springville, when a school bus hit and killed a 7-year-old girl at a stop on East Main Street where her mother was waiting.
Alyssa Hearn, who attended Springville Elementary School, was struck at about 3:45 p.m. in front of DonChelle Salon Spa, where her mother, Katie Fuller, works as a hairstylist.
Katie Fuller was outside on the sidewalk to greet Alyssa and a son, Kyle, when they got off the bus, per their normal Friday routine. Kyle crossed the road safely. It's still unclear what happened to Alyssa.
"We're reviewing videotape. There's a lot of interviews that are being conducted today and on Monday. It's an ongoing investigation," said Scott Zylka, spokesman for the Erie County Sheriff's Office.
The shocking death has galvanized the small community, where many people know the Fuller family.
Mourners and well-wishers set up makeshift memorials - using flowers, stuffed animals and candles - on both sides of East Main Street at the site of the accident, which closed traffic for hours on Friday.
As of 11 p.m. Saturday, more than 800 people had contributed $37,207 toward her funeral costs at a GoFundMe page. Friends also organized a vigil to honor Alyssa for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Springville High School football field.
Laken Croakman described Alyssa as a "happy, sweet girl" who enjoyed getting her nails painted in the salon.
"She had a smile as big as the room," said Croakman, who works at the salon and set up the GoFundMe page.
Friends sought to use the football field for the vigil because Alyssa enjoyed cheerleading and was a member of a local peewee cheerleading squad.
Alyssa and Kyle were part of a blended family of six children, according to Croakman.
Katie Fuller had three children from a previous marriage. She was not remarried but is in a long-term relationship with Mike Dornan, a divorced father of three, Croakman said. Fuller is a devoted mother who "is a mess" over the loss of her daughter, said Croakman.
"Katie is one of the most caring and loving human beings I've met in my life," she said. "I don't know one person who doesn't like her."
The bus regularly dropped off Alyssa and Kyle on Fridays outside the salon, because Katie Fuller usually works a later shift on that day. Some Springville residents said that after Alyssa got off the bus, she began crossing the road in front of the bus as usual, but might have turned back either to pick up something she had dropped or to retrieve something she left behind on the bus. Zylka would not comment, saying the investigation has yet to reveal what exactly happened.
Alyssa typically trailed behind her older brother when getting off the bus, said Croakman. But Croakman said she did not witness the accident and did not want to speculate.
She did, however, dispute initial reports that said Alyssa had been pinned under the bus.